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German, Dutch Armies Halt Iraq Training Amid Iran Tensions


German Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen (L) stands among Kurdish Peshmerga and German Bundeswehr soldiers during a visit to the educational centre Bnaslawa near Irbil, Septebmer 23, 2016 File photo

AFP - Germany and the Netherlands said Wednesday they were halting their training of soldiers in Iraq as tensions rise between neighboring Iran and the United States.

"The German army has suspended the training," defense ministry spokesman Jens Flosdorff said, adding that there was "generally heightened alert, awareness" for soldiers currently operating in the region.

Flosdorff said training may resume in the next few days and that there was "no concrete threat" at the moment.

Germany has about 160 soldiers deployed in Iraq, including 60 in Taji, just to the north of Baghdad, and 100 in Erbil, in Kurdish-controlled northern territory.

Separately, the Netherlands' defense ministry said it was also suspending its training mission in Iraq due to "threats", the Dutch ANP news agency said.

More than 50 Dutch soldiers are training Kurdish troops in Erbil in the context of the international coalition against the Islamic State group, ANP said.

The defense ministry website says the Netherlands also supplies two military advisers and four civilian experts to the NATO "capacity-building mission" in Baghdad.

Lithuania, which has eight soldiers in Iraq, said it did not plan to halt its mission.

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